Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Morgan Jeans: Materials and Construction

Closet Case Patterns Morgan Jeans

Yesterday, when I mentioned that the denim I used was a mystery stash fabric, I brought up that I assumed it was 100% cotton. I didn't do a burn test but cutting and distressing pretty much confirmed that it's not. I can't explain it well but 100% cotton sands differently than a blend. This fabric got a little stringy and shiny, which makes me think there's synthetic in there. Also, when I cut out my jeans I pulled some of the white threads and they were a tiny bit stretchy. so I now think i was probably working with a cotton/poly/lycra blend, which makes sense, since i'm pretty sure i bought it from Joann's. However, if there is stretch it is very minimal. The funny part is that I got the idea to make jeans in the first place just to get rid of this fabric, but even after recutting some pieces I still have over a yard left. It's the denim that never ends. Plus I've bought so many pieces of denim fabric in the past month that my stashbusting attempt was completely pointless.

I have so much quilting fabric that I'm pretty sure I'll always have fun pocket bags. For this pair since I was using red as an accent color I went with a red type Moda print from my stash. the pockets are a little more shallow that I'd like so next time I would make them about an inch deeper.

After my last jeans-making debacle I learned that I hate Gutermann topstitching thread. I bought Tex 80 Jean Thread from Wawak Sewing online and I really prefer this thread. it's thinner than the Gutermann and did not shred except when I tried to use it to sew leather. I used the same Schmetz Jeans 100/16 needles as last time and did not have any difficulties.


I mostly followed the pattern booklet instructions but I did apply the distressing techniques I learned from Sewing Designer Jeans every step of the way. The gist of it is that you need to distress during construction before you do your topstitching. I am really happy with the way that my distressing turned out on this pair. Because I was making comfy boyfriend jeans I did not want that raw denim look--I wanted them to be worn in a little bit. Sanding the fabric really softens it up.

One tool that I found amazingly helpful was a tailor's clapper. I felt really stupid buying one of these, like this is one of those things they tell you to buy but it's just a hunk of wood, how much of a difference can it make? well I can testify that it really does work. You press with steam and then hold the clapper on the seam to seal in the heat and moisture. Your seams are much more flat and crisp. I've since found that the clapper is also awesome for pressing knits.

I hammered the crap out of the seams (with a regular hammer) which also helped to distress them. It did flatten them significantly, but my Janome Horizon 7700 still has issues with very thick seams, even after hammering them. I used a hump jumper and pulled my thread tails and went really really slowly but I still had problems at times, especially with bartacks. I couldn't bartack the belt loops at all.

Morgan Jeans

This was my first time doing a button fly. It went decently well but I did get confused on the instructions at one point and had to rip and start over. I used a 17mm button for the waist and 15mm buttons for the fly. Installing the buttons was uneventful. My issues were with the buttonholes. My Horizon has always been crap-ass at buttonholes, especially on thick fabrics. I'll have to verify it by trying a lighter fabric but I'm pretty sure that the automatic buttonholer is completely broken now. I could only get it to sew like 1/2" worth of stitches and then it would just stop and beep at me. I finally gave up and stitched the buttonholes manually, which was not easy. It's a good thing the button fly is concealed because my buttonholes look awful. I wish that my machine came with a more reliable 4-step buttonhole in addition to the faulty 1-step, but it doesn't. I used my new buttonhole chisel and fray check and so far they've held up. I would not be shocked though if the buttonholes are one of the first things to fail on these jeans.

I made an honest attempt to do rivets. I tested on scrap fabric and it went through 4 layers just fine so I started with the outer edge of the coin pocket and poked a hole with my tailor's awl. But the Dritz double cap rivets (not linking b/c they suuuuuck) I was trying to use were too short and the ends were too blunt to go through the hole. I tried again and again and all I ended up doing was making a gaping hole in my coin pocket and not much else, so I gave up. If anybody has a good source for rivets that don't suck I would love to hear your comments.

I had to really play with back pocket placement because the pattern markings had the pockets pretty much underneath my ass. I moved them up as high as I could but I think they are still a little low on me. I initially thread traced the pocket placement with a basting stitch in contrasting thread. Then when I basted the jeans and tried them on I could get a feel for where the pockets were and adjust from there. I did not do any fun pocket designs b/c I'm more of a plain pockets gal, but perhaps next time I would try a simple classic design, like a V-shape.

To hold the waistband facing in place, I used 1/4" Lite Steam a Seam 2 tape, which is another one of my favorite quilting notions that works great for garments too. I tried using it on the belt loops as well but they were too thick and the tape did not hold no matter how much steam I used.

I bought a pound of leather scraps off etsy and was eager to add a patch to my jeans but I ran into problems. First, for me personally I thought the pattern piece was too large so I trimmed it down. Then, I just clipped the top at the waistband with clover wonder clips (another crossover quilting notion) and tried to sew it down with topstitching thread. The thread kept shredding and breaking no matter what tension or foot pressure I tried and even though I was using a leather needle. I finally gave up after an hour, but the next morning I had the lightbulb moment to just sew it on with normal polyester thread. I still had a few issues with the leather stretching out of shape until I glue basted it down and let it dry first and then stitched. so my leather patch is a bit wonky but hey, it's on and I mostly like how it looks. I did get a lot of really interesting leather scraps for future patches and now I have a better idea of how to sew them on.

Closet Case Patterns Morgan Jeans

I did a 3-thread overlock in contrasting red serger thread and I love how it peeks out at the cuffs. I did not do flat-felled seams and probably never will as long as I am working with my Janome because I know it can't handle the bulk. This project really made me start wanting a heavy-duty sewing machine. If I keep making jeans I might make the investment, even though it sounds crazy. If another machine costs ~$400 and designer jeans cost $200, then in no time it's totally worth it, right?

Despite the issues I had, I really enjoyed this project from start to finish. I am such a jeans and t-shirt gal that I see myself making many more pairs of jeans in the future. I would highly recommend the Morgan Jeans pattern and I really want to sew the high-waisted Ginger jeans next.

Cost Breakdown

  • Time Spent: ~24 hours (assembling the pattern/tracing/fitting/cutting/sewing)
  • Fabric: ??? (probably about $20 if I were purchasing denim at Joann's today and had a coupon)
  • Pattern: $11.90 for the PDF version on sale ($14 regular)
  • Notions/Hardware: ~$17

Approximate total: $48.90

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